Maya's First Birthday Party!

3/10/2021 12:38:00 PM

Happy Birthday Maya!

Hey Hey! Two weeks ago we celebrated our beloved daughter Maya's first birthday with a super fun party and I wanted to tell you all about it! It was a party in the park with friends and family, with a decoration theme of "rainbows" and a food theme of "Kids' Party Food from the 90s". Such fun!

After the whirlwind of lockdowns and restrictions last year (and this year), we weren't sure what Maya's first birthday celebrations would look like, or if we'd even be able to have a party at all. So we were absolutely thrilled to be able to celebrate with friends and family! It was the first time we saw many of them in over a year - and actually, there were many that we hadn't seen since the (pre-COVID) baby shower! This also reminds me that I haven't blogged the baby shower, so let's put that on the list - it will be interesting for me to compare the pre-COVID and post-COVID party considerations!

Maya's actual birthday was on a Monday, and our initial plans were to have a small gathering at home with my parents - dinner and cake - and have a party in the park with our friends the following weekend. However... the plans for the small gathering were totally scuppered when Victoria was plunged back into a five-day Circuit Breaker lockdown! Oh well, there was nothing we could do about it, so on the big day, we celebrated just the three of us at home, with some gifts and cake.

Birthday Cake
Birthday Cake

I baked Nigella's buttermilk birthday cake (from How to be a Domestic Goddess), with the mascarpone cream cheese white chocolate frosting from the Beatrix Bakes cookbook. I'd made both before (the cake for Maya's 6 month birthday; the frosting as part of Beatrix' carrot cake) and knew they'd be delicious! As for the design, I'm sure you'll indulge me and see that it's a Simpsons reference - our version of the "Happy Birthday Maggagie" cake from season 5, episode 21 "Lady Bouvier's Lover". Sandra had gotten the little plastic letters online (which we removed before slicing and eating the cake!) and they looked very effective. We also let Maya eat a slice of cake - she seemed to like it and didn't have a sugar high - woohoo! (Normally we're really strict about sugar and salt, but it was her birthday!)

We had no idea what the Circuit Breaker would mean for the party - what if the lockdown would need to be extended beyond the planned five days, or if restrictions would change significantly following the lockdown - so we just had to wait and see how the lockdown played out before deciding what to do about the party. (Going with the flow does NOT come naturally us, so this was a challenge!)

Luckily the circuit breaker ended on schedule on the Wednesday, and we were able to continue with our party-in-the-park almost exactly as planned. The only change in restrictions was that the limit on outdoor gatherings had been reduced to twenty people (and we had invited thirty-five, as permitted under the previous set of restrictions). So, we decided to split the party into two sessions (like at yum cha or at a fancy restaurant) and asked people to come to either the first half or the second half. Our friends were all super cool about this and it was definitely the easiest way to manage. (Rather than say, rescheduling, or having two parties on two different days, both of which we had considered).

So, let's talk fun party stuff! (We may have gone a bit OTT, but it was the first party we'd hosted in over a year and we wanted it to be great!) We made all the food ourselves - doing individual picnic boxes to make it a COVID-safer event. (This had already been decided pre-Circuit Breaker lockdown; we just like being cautious). We did three types of boxes - adults, kids, and babies. We also splashed out on expensive helium foil balloons from Poppies for Grace, and did individual lolly bags for everyone to take home.

In terms of preparation, we were searching for and buying supplies over the weeks leading up to the party (the boxes, lolly bags, balloons etc.); we went food shopping a couple of times the week before; and the two days before the party were a frantic blur of cooking and baking and preparation!

Let's take a look!

Mylar balloons
Balloon bouquet from Poppies for Grace

I ordered a rainbow balloon bouquet from Poppies for Grace and grossly underestimated the size they would be - they were massive and took over the lounge room! They were a big expense too, at $160, but they were massive, very pretty, and they really helped people find the party! (A bunch of balloons is the international symbol for party!) Foil balloons seem to last for ages too; two weeks later we still have four decent ones at home and Maya loves playing with them.

Chocolates for the lolly bags
Chocolates for the lolly bags

All the chocolate bars for the lolly bags! (I actually don't like lollies/candy, so it was all chocolate).

Lolly Bags
Lolly bags

Two days before the party, I made a batch of chocolate crackles, which were a must have item at all of my childhood birthday parties. They don't taste quite as nice as I remember them, but they're easy to make and people liked them! (They also last in an airtight container in the fridge for a good few days, so they're good to make in advance).

Chocolate Crackles
Chocolate Crackles

The night before, I baked the birthday cake: Nigella's chocolate fudge cake, which I baked in a single layer for ease of sharing. On the day of the party, I iced it and covered it in pretty sprinkles!

Chocolate Fudge Cake
Chocolate Fudge Cake


Sandra was in charge of the babies' lunch boxes, and the night before the party she made baby-friendly banana blueberry muffins and little egg and veggie cups for them to eat. Super cute!

Baby-friendly Banana Blueberry Muffins
Baby-friendly Banana Blueberry Muffins

Baby-friendly Veggie Egg Cups
Baby-friendly Veggie Egg Cups

Now... the day of the party...

Fairy bread and vegemite sandwiches
Fairy bread and Vegemite sandwiches

I was really keen to have fairy bread, as it was a sweet memory from my childhood! German Sandra thought the concept was weird (and if you think about it, it really is), but I just love it! Soft soft white bread, soft spreadable butter and loads of sprinkles. It really isn't a kid's birthday party without it! We also made vegemite and cheese sandwiches - not because I ate them in my childhood, but because I wanted something savoury in the boxes (to counter all the sugar) that could happily be eaten at room temperature. I did the Nigella trick of beating the butter and vegemite together to make it easier to spread! Also - I used a pizza cutter to cut the big quantities of sandwiches/fairy bread which made it super quick and easy.

Finishing off the sandwiches and assembling all the boxes was quite hectic, and the kitchen was super chaotic!

Kitchen Chaos
Kitchen Chaos

I must say, it was very satisfying when all the boxes were complete and ready to go.

Completed lunch boxes
Completed lunch boxes

Lunch Box for Adults
Lunch box for adults - crisps, chocolate crackle, fairy bread, vegemite & cheese sandwiches, slice of birthday cake, juice

Gluten Free Grown Up Lunch Box
Gluten-free grown up lunch box - GF fairy bread, GF cheese and vegemite sandwich, crisps, PB & cacao balls, juice

Lunch box for kids
Lunch box for kids - fairy bread, chocolate crackle, vegemite and cheese sandwich, crisps, birthday cake, water bottle, Peppa Pig yogurt-covered raisins

Baby lunch box
Baby lunch box - strawberries, banana blueberry muffins, egg and veggie cups, organic animal biscuits

So, Sandra drove down to the park with all the food, and I walked there with Maya in the pram and the massive balloons trailing behind us. The party was really really fun, and everyone seemed to like the lunch boxes! And with everything prepared in advance, hosting the party itself was pretty chill. Or as chill as hosting a party can be - having been in lockdown for much of last year, and only socialising in small groups since, I forgot how much energy it takes to go around talking to everyone, making sure everything's running smoothly and that everyone gets their food - it was so fun but we were absolutely knackered afterwards!

What's most important is that the guest of honour enjoyed the party - she loved crawling around on the picnic blankets, seeing all the people and playing with the other babies, and she really enjoyed eating from her picnic box! (And occasionally eating from the floor, whoops).

Baby snack box in action
Baby snack box in action

Happy happy first birthday, Maya!!

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My email address is sarahcooks [at] hotmail [dot] com.